The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is using “targeted enforcement” to crack down on street takeover groups after an uptick in incidents this month.
At a news conference Monday, Maj. Dave Johnson with the department’s Special Operations Bureau said CMPD has put more effort into tracking the groups’ gathering spots.
Why it matters: The police say the street takeover groups engage in dangerous and illegal activities by blocking intersections, clustering in roadways for racing, doing burnouts and performing other stunts with their cars.
Last weekend, CMPD officers responded to multiple reports of street takeover events involving hundreds of cars.
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Johnson said that in the first 27 days of February, the department issued 54 citations, made five arrests, and seized 12 vehicles.
One incident, in uptown Charlotte near the NASCAR Hall of Fame, was recorded and posted on social media. The video shows a red sports car performing donuts inside the intersection at S. Brevard Street and E. Brooklyn Village. Other cars appear to be blocking off the roadway during the 24-second clip.
The incident was recorded around 3 a.m. Sunday. Johnson said CMPD was investigating a hit-and-run crash related to the incident, but the authorities, as of Monday afternoon, had arrested no suspect. The department seized a vehicle as evidence, he said.
Johnson said these groups, primarily teens, are part of a nationwide social media trend that began during the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said the CMPD monitors areas of the city where the groups routinely gather, adding that the goal is to arrest the groups’ leaders.
In many instances, officers issue citations but make no arrests, Johnson said, noting a CMPD staffing shortage.
“We don’t want to use that as a crutch,” he said, “but we need to be smart about managing those resources as well.”
Johnson said the department has had trouble identifying some drivers, many of whom aren’t the registered owners of the cars they race. In addition, he said, the vehicles sometimes don’t have a proper license plate.
CMPD is working with the Charlotte Department of Transportation (CDOT) to add physical barriers at some popular gathering spots, Johnson said.
He said CMPD also plans to work with Charlotte City Council and the North Carolina legislature to create “stringent” consequences for offenders.
“There are some jurisdictions across the country that have mandated high fines, six-month seizures, automatic seizure of that vehicle if they’re convicted,” Johnson said. “We would love to see something like that that has an immediate effect.”
Johnson said anyone who sees a street takeover should call 911 but not confront the group.
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